The title says pretty much it. But here a little more context:

There's a EXIT sign I want to improve. I should look something like this:

Fixed stairs <= EXIT => Mechanical Stairs

My questions:

1) How can I represent graphically and unequivocally the two type of stairs?
2) Should I place just graphics, just text, or both to indicate them?

  • And ISO 7001 doesn't work because...? Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 16:43

3 Answers 3


A good icon for stairs with cogs or arrows pointing forward will be decriptive enough. I found the example below using google images.

enter image description here

  • I would have the person have both legs beside each other, not one in front of the other. This way, you avoid the impression that the person is walking.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 8:06
  • That would be a good improvement. Showing the lack of motion makes sense.
    – Terry
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 8:26

I think the most simple way is to think of the action that is being taken.

Stairs 2 flights run/jog motion of person icon

Escalator 1 45° span 2 gears underneath standing position person icon

This is how I would do it. Keep it as simple as possible.


More clearer?

Icons are cool, but not always clear. Even Eddie A's great solution would require some interpretation by the user:

"Is that a meat-grinder stair case!?!?"

Assuming a reasonable homogeneity among the users' language, you could just spell it out. Words are often the most clear means of communicating similar options. Adding icons to aid multilingual support, would be icing on the cake.

Signs with words

  • I disagree. Every icon I've ever seen on a sign has been easily recognized. Foreign airports have this down to a t.
    – Terry
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 8:25
  • "Every icon I've ever seen ..." Seriously? Well, you certainly beat the average citizen at symbol translation. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 8:30
  • @plainclothes is right, symbols may be not enough unless they are really easy translated by everyone, usually they need a "text help". In the UXcommunity it's pretty well known. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 13:08
  • @Terry My point here is the challenge of distinguishing similar elements. For example: Walk vs bike vs car isn't hard to symbolize. But distinguishing gas-powered car from electric-powered car without text asks more participation of the viewer. Unfortunately, we can't always count on users' participation. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 18:01

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